No Weak-Kneed Parenting

 

IMG_3627

Good parenting is a lot like this tree.

This tree is The Founders Tree in Landa Park, in New Braunfels, Texas.  I grew up with this tree. This beautiful statue of strength dates back to around 1700.  That tree has weathered a lot of storms and droughts!  This old Live Oak is considered an Indian Marker Tree—a tree that was tied sideways in order to point to a favorable water source.  The Founders Tree is thought of as the mightiest tree in Texas.  Actually, this scenic park is full of many beautiful trees.  Your just not a self-respecting park if you don’t have beautiful, magnificent trees!

I was mesmerized by this tree growing up.  It sparked my imagination and wonderings.  In some ways it felt sacred.  What had this tree witnessed or who first saw this tree?  Maybe travelers had found shade and rest by this tree.  Its size and age alone inspired awe.  I knew of no other tree like this one.

You may think I have lost it.  You aren’t really seeing the connection between a tree and parenting.  I think there is.

images-2

 

Parenting is not for cowards!

This tree is strong and resilient.  It wasn’t blown away by some gust of wind.  When we parent, we must be just like this tree—strong and resilient.  Our kids are gonna wear us down.  You may feel like you have been chewed up and spit out before the first bowl of cereal is poured and the first cartoon is played!  Or, maybe they are older and know just the right buttons to push.

My least favorite thing is to be greeted at first light of the morning with a sibling squabble or a grumpy kid.  It can set my day off wrong before my feet ever hit the floor.  But, I have to remember my purpose.  My purpose is to parent them and set the tone.  It takes personal strength and hutzpah!

They need us to be strong.  They need to be able to count on us to set strong, protective boundaries.  They may not be your friend, but that’s ok.  They need a parent more than a friend.

 

Parenting is an endurance race!

endurance

 

This tree has been here a really long time!  Really–1700.  It didn’t let the all-too-familiar droughts shrivel it up.  It has weathered storms that have rolled through.  If you just look at this tree, you see the shape and contour.  It has an incredible root system and is near a water source.  Both of these qualities have helped this beautiful tree stand through the generations.  This is a perfect analogy for parenting.  Your root system needs to be wide and deep and you need to know your source.  Where are you getting your strength and depth of character?  Who are you relying on to lead you as you parent?  The internet?  The latest parenting craze?  The internet has been a great source of much needed information for me.  Got an issue?  Read a book, search the Web!  But, really I just have to rely on what God has to say to me about my situation.  It’s amazing how much He actually has to say to us.  What do I want my children to be like as the grow?  I need to look deep within myself and see what is in me.  This is the best way to work out this endurance race.  Some days feel like a sprint, but realize you are parenting for the marathon.

 

 

Parenting is sacred!sample_634617194030440887001_1

God has hand picked you for your children.  These children don’t need some other mother or father.  They need you.  You have what it takes to raise them just as they should be.  I’ve always taken mothering incredibly seriously.  God has entrusted these children to us to ultimately lead to Him. That is the primary goal.  How we parent matters.  Our children will learn how to see God through how we live.  Their first impressions of God come from us.  It matters!  We teach them how to live life.  We aren’t perfect and that’s okay.  We say to our kids, “Follow me, as I follow God!”  When we mess up, they can have a front row seat to God’s grace in your life.  They probably won’t understand it all now, but later they will look back and see clearly.

Our kids look to us.  Will we inspire them?  We can’t leave it to the world to lead them.  It doesn’t take a village to raise your child.  It takes you!  Yes, we have those around us who contribute to their lives, but we are the primary source of inspiration and guidance.  You may say, “Wow! No pressure, there!”  We don’t have to do it alone, though.

On many occasions I have prayed about specific parenting issues I have had with each of my kids.  I need God to lead us in parenting these humans in a way He wants them parented.  No.  I have to have His help.  They have a purpose to fulfill–He knows better what they need than we do.

We need to love and nurture and provide support and shade.  The generations to follow depend on you.  What do you want your legacy to be?  What goals do you have for your parenting?  What do you need to adjust in order for the next generations to have a lasting legacy to look to?

Landa-Park-Fouders-Oak

 

I Love Big Books and I Can Not Lie!

3cecd2f111a27bb22f6289be89bc9068

There are two things I really love.  One is reading and the second is summertime.  Oh, my goodness!  I  am addicted to books.   Reading and summertime go hand in hand.  To be able to read without limits is a summer daydream.

 

My dream of having a home library is well on its way.  Ever since working as a hostess for a Christmas party during college in a home with a gorgeous library,  I dream of having a home library.  This library was unlike anything I had ever seen.  Up to that point, I really hadn’t seen one in a home.  This library came complete with mahogany wood and a ladder.  I was smitten!

Well, we aren’t to the mahogany wood or ladder yet, but thousands of books we do have.  I want my kids to have great books at their fingertips.  Never mind we now have instant access to electronic books, the real black ink on paper is what really satisfies me.

Our community library is like heaven to me.  Oh!  the possibilities that wait for me there!  I remember as a kid going every couple weeks to the library during the summer.  I would walk the shelves looking for fantastic reads.  The famous Little House on the Prairie series and stories about nurses or historical fiction filled my days.  Oh, the smell of a library and the cool little check out cards that were stamped when you checked out your great finds!  That was my dream job as a 13 year old.  I wanted to scan the books, stamp the dates and slide that cardboard name card back into the special, little pocket.  Summer childhood memories.

45441_original-1

I remember going to college and the love of reading was stomped into the ground.  So much reading; so much boring reading.  But, after my eldest child was born, the love was sparked once again.  This time I devoured books!  They were my escape.  I couldn’t get enough.  I was introduced to some great Christian fiction authors and read all of their works.  This reading brought light back into my soul.  Reading is powerful.  Books are powerful.

I have compiled a list of books I want to read this summer.  I tend to be a little finicky and picky these days.  I usually freestyle on the books.  I wasn’t sure I could come up with a refined book list.  If they don’t grab me by page 75, our relationship may come to a screeching halt.  I heard somewhere if a book doesn’t pull you in by page 100, put it away.  Life is too short and there are too many amazing books to force yourself to read dull books!  So, that is my philosophy.  Although, it is with great reluctance, this cutting off of a book not worthy of my time.

I have divided the books into three categories.  I will work at these books all summer.  Some may go by the wayside; something new may be added in.  But, this is the start.

 

Personal Spiritual Growth

2015-06-15 12.19.11

The Next Christians  by Gabe Lyons

The Best Yes  by Lysa Terkeurst

The Sacred Romance  by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge

Abundant Simplicity  by Jan Johnson

A Confident Heart  by Renee Swope

Your Legacy  by Dr. James Dobson

A Ragamuffin Gospel  by Brennan Manning  (not pictured)

 

Personal Enrichment

2015-06-15 12.39.02

The War of Art  by Steven Pressfield

Daring Greatly  by Brene Brown

Words Fail Me  by Patricia T. O’Conner

The Jesus-hearted Woman  by Jodi Detrick

Things I Want My Daughters to Know  by Alexandra Stoddard

The Nesting Place  by Myquillyn Smith

 

Fiction

2015-06-15 12.41.47

The Lost Symbol  by Dan Brown

Somerset  by Leila Meacham

All The Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr

Find Me  by Laura Van den Berg

Keep in mind I am a fluid reader.  I will have more than one going at a time.  Some of these may lose their fire for me.  I certainly may add different titles along the way.  That’s okay.  Reading should be enjoyable!  I just learn the lessons I can from the book and move on.  My legalistic self, often feels like there is a running tally and list of books I started, but put down.  But, guess what?  There isn’t!

I’m all sorts of happy with my list!  I get all excited when I come upon different reading lists.  Practically giddy!  So many new books and so many to yet cross my path.  What are you reading?  I would love to hear about the books you have in the stack beside you!  Speaking of stacks…I have them!  I’m never going to be a crazy cat lady, but I just may end up as the crazy book lady!  My dream of having a home library is well on its way to great books!

images

Do I Have To?

images-3

I have experience.

Lots of it.  Some of it has come with kicking and screaming, but I have experience, nonetheless.  “What experience?” you may ask.

Well, it is …..

stick-to-it-ativeness. 

Yeah.  It’s not as beautiful as it sounds.  Trust me.  Everyone has one of two tendencies.  That is to fight or flee.  And, actually, I am by nature a flee-er.  Many times the option of “flight” seems pretty alright to me.  So, honestly, I don’t come by this naturally.

But, I am married to….you guessed it!  A fighter.

No, not a fighter, as in, he can’t get along with people and stirs up conflict.  He is the kind that won’t run from a battle.  He knows what is needed and will fight to see it happen.  He’s not a quitter.  His philosophy is, “I may not be smarter or more talented than others, but I can certainly outlast anybody!”  Um, clearly, this has made for some great fun over the years.

I like comfort.  I don’t like to go through the stretching and retching part of life.  I like for everyone to like me.  I want no hardships and certainly no sacrificing.  I want dreams and projects to flow smoothly.  I really don’t want conflict, hate it in fact.  I certainly don’t want to be judged or misjudged.  I like for the tasks I set my hand to to flow without hiccups or roadblocks of any sort.  I want everyone to agree with me and my opinions. And, I certainly do NOT need or want rejection.

It hurts. The hard stuff hurts.

Life tends to bring along those moments when we must choose.

There isn’t any way around it.  Someone or something intrudes into your dream or boundaries.  Something important is at stake.  The life or death of it depends on whether you stay and fight or run and flee.  Maybe it’s your family, a child, a dream, or a way of life. Maybe it’s your calling or vocation.  Perhaps it is fighting injustice or standing up for what or who is right.  Whatever it is, you will have to choose.

Either way, everything hangs in the balance.

I’ll give you 3 examples from my life.  Perhaps you can relate.

First of all, my husband and I started a new church back in 1994.  We were young.  We were inexperienced and truthfully didn’t have a clue as to what we had joined up for.  We were still trying to figure out who we were at the tender age of 24.  We had seen great success stories and figured we could pull off something just like those.  It took 7 years to reach the goal of 100 people.  It took even longer to acquire our own facility.  We worked hard.  It certainly wasn’t for a lack of hard work and sacrifice.  We barely survived on the meager salary.

About the third or fourth year in, I was done.  We had faced apparent failure on many levels.  I wanted to quit so badly!  My husband?  Oh, yes, I know he did.  But, we didn’t leave that congregation until 2008.  He would pacify me by telling me to just give him until May.  If things didn’t turn around by May, we would think about going somewhere else.  Well, he knew that once winter was over in Iowa, things always look better at some level, come May.  I figured him out, finally, about the third year of being told that.  I’m slow.

Second story.  In 2008, our family moved to Virginia to our second congregation.  This seemed as if our dreams were answered in one fell swoop.  Not long after moving here,  it seemed as if we had stepped into a nightmare.  This was a very different hard than our Iowa challenge.  We faced intense obstacles, setbacks, reversals, personal attacks, rejection, strife, and twisted plots.  The personal and professional price has been high. This church was in deep crisis and they weren’t in the mood to be helped.  So many times I could have been packing boxes on a moment’s notice.  All my husband needed to do was give me the word.  I was more than done!

Final story.  The first three years in Virginia seemed like they were from hell.  We took a huge financial hit when the real estate bubble burst and we needed to sell our house and move to Virginia.  Then, my son came to us and told us he had been sexually abused for three years by an authority figure.  Then, my other child was diagnosed with a serious medical condition after months of intense, unexplained pain and slow debilitation. Then, my father passed away after battling Alzheimers for 13 years.  This all happened within the first three years after moving to Virginia.  There were moments during those very difficult years I began to question the presence of God in my life.  I wasn’t so sure He could be trusted.

images

Here’s the deal.

At any given point in my life, I desperately wanted to throw in the towel.  The pain felt greater than the reward.  And, yes, there have been some serious sacrifices made that only God will be able to make right.  But, we didn’t quit.  There were no magic formulas or bribes to hold us steady. The only promise we had to go on was God would see us through.  It might be painful, it might look ugly, but we would make it if we just didn’t quit.  “Those who quit remember the ordeal.  Those who endure remember the adventure.”  That has become a life value of sorts.

There are many giftings we don’t possess.  There are quite a few things we do well; there have been many mistakes along the way, too.  But one thing which doesn’t require talent or gifting is something we do have—“outlast-attude”.  We can outlast just about anything.

images-1

You have to dig deep.  You have to stare your giant in the face and stare it down.  It’s not easy.  But, find the grit and the depth of character to outlast anything life throws your way.  Needless to say, I’m thankful my Honey had enough hutzpah for the both of us!

Your whole life and legacy depend on it.  Everyone who follows after you, depend on it.  It’s not just about you anyway.  It never has been.

images-2

Fits and Starts

 

colored-fractal-spiral-1394371137wHK

Life comes in seasons.

Dreams and their fulfilling often come in fits and starts.

It feels like taking two steps forward and one step backward.

Sometimes, it might even feel as if nothing is happening at all.

Or, maybe it even feels like your dreams are unraveling before your eyes.

I continue to come across this quote,

“Sometimes when things are falling apart they may actually be falling into place.”

I like it.

I’ve often found this to be true in my life.

Maybe the waiting and wanting isn’t the problem.

Maybe that’s all part of the plan.

Sometimes, I get this picture in my mind of God sitting and watching and chuckling.  Maybe He even looks at us and gives a wink. He watches us, you know.  He didn’t just throw us out and leaving us flailing and falling, hoping we would find our wings and catch the wind.  No, He is much more benevolent and kind.  I imagine He must wonder at times why we take so long.  Circling the same mountain over and over and over again.  All the while, He is ready to reveal something super amazing!

image-1

We have to get out of our heads and out of the way.

So, on this, maybe I finally have.

My season of focusing solely on my family is slightly shifting.  Nothing extreme or world shattering. Just a slight shift.  Ever subtle, but it is enough to teach me something.  For a while, I realized I didn’t have any dreams.  Maybe life or crises or anxiety or depression does that.  But, I found myself in that place.  I found it nearly debilitating.  It made me freeze in fear.  How can I not have a dream?

I’m an “all in” kind of person. If I do something, it requires me to be all in. 100% full throttle in.  So, that is how I mother and support my husband.  A husband, three kids and a dog.  Big life changes came with our firstborn stepping into college.  So many things to keep up with and love and do.  Thinking up a dream wasn’t really on the “To Do List”.

look-colors-abstract-art-color-painting

 

But, all the while I knew God had something for me to do in addition to my love of home.  I kept circling and circling the mountain of purpose.  It just led to discontent and sadness.  It came in cycles and started coming with more and more frequency.  It was just enough to unnerve and unsettle me and knock me from a place of contentment.

It’s cool how these moments force you to make the next step.  It is almost like walking up a staircase…with the constant bumping into the step above you, but never able to rise up to it.  

This is where I had found myself in the last couple of years.

But, life and dreams work slowly.

It isn’t a fast journey.

It takes collecting experiences and learning what is needed.

It is stopping and starting.

It is waiting and walking.

It is leaning in and pushing away.

And, if you are wrapped up in Christ, He is right in the middle of it all.  Right there.

Watching and speaking.

Calling and loving.

Gently coaxing, and calmly pulling us back.

It all feels frustrating at times and even discouraging if we are honest.

1300

The fits and starts and the collecting of experience—painful and beautiful alike. 

It all serves to bring us to the place we need to be.

Slowly by slowly, the edges soften and light begins to shine through.  Maybe not much at first.  Perhaps, so faint you are afraid it will disappear if you turn away.  But, oh, how journeying through the desert and circling the mountain teaches you so much!

image

I’ve learned a good deal about myself in all of this.

I’ve collected memories and thoughts and, most of all, some wisdom along the way.  So, here I am.  Seeing a very faint but distinct shimmer.  I sit and listen quietly, searching and looking for signs and signals, hearing the wind blow and stir.  My heart knows.  New days and paths are leading me to what lies ahead.  My heart knows nothing is wasted or useless.  My heart knows its priority and first love.  Even when circling a mountain I had grown entirely too familiar with, God was watching…and waiting.  He was listening and shaping.

It doesn’t matter how hard you scream for your dream. 

If it isn’t time for the dawning of the dream, it isn’t going to happen.  God knows you.  He knows your dream.  He knows His dream for you.  You are far too important to prematurely birth your dream.  And besides, the birthing in and of itself is a long process.  From the first glimpse of shimmer to full blown reality is often longer still.

But, keep this in mind.  It. Is. Coming.

So, journey around the mountain.  Listen and call.  Watch and seek.  Learn and release.  And, wait.  But, just do something to prepare for your dream.  Waiting doesn’t mean being idle.  Waiting is work.  Wait and seek.  Only He knows the real outcome for your dream.

I’m sure I will circle more mountains on my way.  One dream is maybe not enough for my one, magnificent life.  Here, though, is the lesson I am learning on the way.

I am doing great things with my life…even now.  I may not be notable or noteworthy, but I am doing what I should be doing.  And, as the time comes I will be ready to step into the dreams I am now dreaming.  It’s time for me to dream.  I think I’m getting it…and I think He is chuckling.

Unknown